Politics and Passion Week

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Have you ever been stung by a bee? This happened several times to me when I was a kid. I have a slight allergy to bee stings, so when I get stung, I swell up a lot around the sting. When you get stung, the stinger will stick in your skin. If you have ever looked, the stinger will be throbbing as it is pumping poison into you, which makes the sting burn. You must scrape the stinger out. If you grab it to pull it out, you risk squeezing even more poison into your skin. Anytime one of us got a bee sting, my mom would slice an onion in half and have us hold it over the sting because the onion would suck some of the poison out.

One spring day, my brothers and I were throwing a football back and forth in our yard. The ball bounced into a big overgrown wild rosebush covered with flowers. I chased the ball near the roses, and something flew into my mouth. I tried to spit it out, but it clung to the inside of my lower lip.  That’s when it got me. I got stung in my lower lip. My lower lip started to burn like fire. It hurt so bad. My lower lip completely swelled up. It literally swelled until my lower was hanging below my chin. Of course my older brothers laughed and made fun of the way I looked.

If you follow politics, you know how politicians have been trying to silence this one man who is opposing them. He seems to have come out of nowhere, and rocketed to popularity. At first they just ignored him, and thought he was no threat. Then as he gained popularity, they mocked him, and tried to humiliate him. Unfortunately every time they tried to trip him up with his words and outsmart him, he turned the tables on them and showed what hypocrites they are.  Every time they tried to turn the crowds against him, he always came out on top. They accused him with trumped up charges, but somehow he walked free every time. They were so frustrated. It was as if he was made of Teflon. Nothing would stick to him!

Finally, they made up a charge, and had him indicted. They were finally able to turn one of his closest allies against him. They found people with questionable backgrounds that would say anything to get him. They indicted him, had him arrested and drug him into court. They threw everything they had against him. This time, they gaslighted the people and got public opinion on their side, and they were able to incite the crowd to turn on him.

No, I’m not talking about former President Donald Trump. I’m talking about Jesus Christ. Passion week began with Palm Sunday as the people sang his praises when he rode into Jerusalem on the back of a Donkey.

Let’s go back just a little farther and look at an event that happened just before passion week. According to John, this happened Saturday evening, the day before Palm Sunday.

Before going to Jerusalem Jesus was staying in Bethany with his friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. A dinner was held in his honor and people came from all around to see Jesus, and the man Lazarus whom Jesus had raised from the dead. This story happened just before passion week (John 12:1-8). Mary had taken a pound of the most expensive perfume that existed during that time. She took this very expensive perfume and poured it on Jesus’ feet. She was anointing him for his death. This was an expression of her love for Jesus.

The next day was Palm Sunday. In the book of Daniel it was predicted Jesus would ride into Jerusalem on the back of a Donkey on this day 600 years before it happened. Daniel predicted to the day when Jesus would ride into Jerusalem, and he also predicted that at the end of the week the Messiah would be killed. The Jews knew the Old Testament better than we do. They knew about Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 weeks of years, and the coming of the Messiah. They also knew about Zechariah 9:9 (ESV), which says, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

The crowd who had been at the dinner in honor of Jesus, were now shouting hosannah as Jesus entered Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-11). They recognized Jesus as the Messiah, prophesied in Daniel, and Zechariah. They had been at the dinner the day before at Mary, Martha, and Lazarus’ home. This was the same Lazarus that they had witnessed Jesus raise from the dead not long before. They had seen Lazarus alive with their own eyes.

The crowd began to throw palm branches and laid their cloaks in front of Jesus to walk on. It was like rolling out the red carpet. They were shouting out praise and adoration saying “Hosanna.” This would be like us shouting “Praise the Lord.” It was a huge party, and they were celebrating. These same people would call for his crucifixion later in the same week. They were expecting a conquering king who would come in and rescue them from the oppression of the Romans. They were not looking for a spiritual savior who would save them from their sins.

On Monday, day two of passion week Jesus entered the Temple in Jerusalem and threw out the moneychangers (see Mark 11:15-18).

Jesus was passionate about God, His Father. His biggest condemnation always came for the Pharisees and Sadducees. These were religious leaders, but they were also politicians. They considered themselves holy, and were so proud of their knowledge of the Bible and how they followed it. Jesus was now condemning them for their crooked activity in the temple as they bought and sold, constantly cheating and getting rich off the backs of the people.

The next day was Tuesday, day 3. Jesus did a lot of teaching on Tuesday, predicting his return, talking about the greatest commandment, and talking about the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. He also tells many parables including one about ten virgins (see Matthew 24).

All the disciples except Judas were from Galilee. Jesus taught that he is the bridegroom, and the church is his bride. He must go away to prepare a place for us, and he will return, like a bridegroom for his bride. The marriage feast in Galilee was always a huge event that no one wanted to miss. A wedding feast was a big deal. In Galilean weddings, the return of the bridegroom for his bride was to be a surprise. Only the grooms father knew what day and hour he would go to get his bride, and the bride and bridesmaids were expected to be ready in case he came in the middle of the night. Jesus talks about ten virgins who were bridesmaids waiting the day the groom would come to claim his bride, and they would go to the wedding supper to celebrate the wedding. In this case, five were wise and five were foolish. The five who were wise had oil and extra oil for their lamps. The five who were not wise didn’t have enough oil when the groom returned. They were late arriving to the party, and were locked out. They missed out on the wedding feast. Many people believe in God, and even believe everything about Jesus. But if they have never received Jesus Christ as their Savior, if they never became followers of Jesus, they won’t have enough oil in their lamps when Jesus returns for this Church, his bride. They will not be allowed in.

Jesus was telling his disciples, just like in the Galilean wedding ceremony, he would return for his bride, the church, which includes Christians everywhere. He will take us to his father’s house, and we will forever be with the Lord.

Wednesday, day 4 was the day Judas went to the Chief priests seeking to make money from betraying Jesus (see Matthew 26:14-16).

The 5th day, Thursday, was a special day for Jesus and the disciples. It was the day before his crucifixion. This was the day they would celebrate the Passover feast (John 13:1-11, 33-35).

Jesus knew what was coming. He knew that Judas had already gone to the chief priests to betray him. Yet, Jesus loved all of them, even Judas, until the end.

It was during the Passover feast that Jesus prophesied that it would be Judas who would betray him. This was also where he instituted communion. He told the disciples that all of them would betray him, and when Peter tried to tell him that he would never betray him, Jesus told him he would deny him three times before the roster crowed.

Judas left to go to the pharisees and betray Jesus.  

Jesus led the disciples out to the garden of Gethsemane to pray.

Jesus fully knew what was coming. He knew that he was going to be crucified, which is still known today as the most painful death man has ever invented. He knew he was about to take on all of the sins of the world as a sacrificial lamb. He was only 33 years old, and he was facing death. The Bible records that he had a reaction to this extreme stress. People under extreme distress sometimes will have a condition called Hematidrosis. This is when blood vessels just under the skin begin to burst, and blood will start coming out through the sweat glands. This is a very painful experience and is exactly what Luke chapter 22 describes here.

Judas brought the soldiers from the temple with him to arrest Jesus. He arrived, walked up to Jesus, and betrayed him with a kiss. This was a cultural greeting. It would be like two close friends greeting each other with a hug in our culture.

Day 6, Friday, Jesus was hauled from court to court, he was beaten, mocked and scourged. Early in the morning on Friday before most of Jerusalem was awake he was tried and judged. The Sanhedrin had the power to give the death sentence, but they were afraid of the crowds, so they made it a political issue. They pushed Pilate to sentence Jesus to death so the crowds couldn’t blame the priests.

As you read the story, Pilate put Jesus on trial and found him not guilty. He tried to release him but the priests incited the crowds to release Barabbas and crucify Jesus. The soldiers spat on Jesus, beat him, mocked him, and whipped him. They made a crown out of thorns and shoved it down on his head. Finally, they made him carry his own cross through the crowds as they ripped the beard from his face. Finally, around 9 in the morning, they laid him on the cross, nailing his hands and feet down. Then they lifted the cross in the air, and dropped it in a hole, which caused all of his bones to come out of place. To take a breath, he would have to push up on the nail in his feet. He hung there in absolute agony until he died at 3 in the afternoon. You can read the story in Luke chapter 23.

  When Jesus died, he died for all of our sins. He was totally innocent. He was born sinless, and never sinned his whole life. He didn’t do one thing to deserve the punishment and death he died. He did it for us. Jesus himself predicted this in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

When Jesus died, the Bible says the veil of the Temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom. The veil of the Temple was this very thick curtain that separated and hid the ark of the covenant from the rest of the Temple. At the time of Christ this veil was about 20 feet tall, 60 feet wide, and 4 inches thick. This was where the glory of God dwelled.

Once a year one of the high priests were allowed behind the veil to make an atonement or sin offering for the people’s sins. Now this separation between God and man was torn asunder. We no longer had to have a priest to make atonement for us, because Jesus became our high priest. We can go directly to him for forgiveness of sins now.

The 7th day of the Passion week, Saturday, Jesus’ body lay in the tomb. One of the followers of Jesus named Joseph of Armithea, a wealthy man, and some of the women took the body of Jesus down from the cross, and they quickly prepared his body for burial (Matthew 27:57-66). They tightly bound his whole body in a burial shroud. There were about 75 pounds of strong-smelling perfume and spices sitting on his chest. Then they put him in a borrowed tomb. The tomb was sealed with a huge rock that was rolled into a slot in front of the tomb. The disciples were scattered and went into hiding, thinking they may be next.  

Over the course of the seven days of passion week, Jesus gave everything he had to the people. He taught them. He told them he was entering into a new covenant with them. He told them of the new commandment of love towards one another. And finally, he layed down his life for the sins of the world. Now he was buried in a tomb. Guards were placed outside the tomb to make sure the disciples could not steal his body, because there were rumors going around that he said he would rise from the dead.

Something unique and special happened on the 8th day. This would be day 8 from the time he rode into Jerusalem to the cries of Hosanna. On the 8th day, he rose from the dead proving he was who he said he was, the savior of the world. This 8th day miracle is why we now celebrate and meet on Sundays. The 8th day when Jesus rose from the dead.

Have you ever been stung by a bee? It can really hurt. Some people have a bit of an allergy to bee stings, and will have swelling around the area that got stung. Some people have serious allergies to bee stings. For them it’s not just painful, it can be deadly.

I recently heard a story of a child who was deathly allergic to bee stings. If they were stung, the family had a pen with a needle to immediately give him a shot to prevent him from dying before they could get him to the hospital. As most kids, he was terrified of needles, but he was even more afraid of bees.

One warm spring day they were driving down the road with the windows down, when a great big bumblebee flew in the window. The Dad quickly tried to shew it out the window while trying to pull safely to the side of the road. The little boy was crying. Then the Dad reached out and snagged the bumble right out of the air. He squeezed his hand tightly on the bee for several seconds.

After a few moments, the Dad let the bee go free from his hand. As soon as he let it go, the boy became frantic once again as the bee buzzed around in the car.

The father realized the terror his little boy must be in. He reached his hand out again. This time he opened his hand to his son, and pointed to it. Right there, stuck in the palm of his hand was the bee’s stinger. He said, “You see this son?” he said. “You don’t have to be afraid anymore. I took the sting away for you.”

Politicians killed Jesus. They thought it was over. They thought they had exercised the ultimate political power in silencing their hated opponent by killing him. But Jesus didn’t stay dead. He rose from the dead proving he is everything he said he is.

Jesus rose from the dead on Easter Sunday. For the past two thousand years we have been celebrating the fact that Jesus was crucified for our sins on Good Friday, and he rose from the dead on Easter. He conquered sin and death. We no longer have to fear death because of his work on the cross and his Easter resurrection. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:50-58, “I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.  Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

As Christians, we no longer need to fear death. Just like the dad took the sting out of the bee, Jesus took away the sting of death for us. We know we will one day be reunited with our loved ones.

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